(Image Credit: NASA)
With NASA preparing to send humans once more to the Moon, many people have been envisioning humans creating lunar space bases out of metals either mined from our Earthen cradle or from the asteroids far away.
While building with such materials may add to the beauty of a lunar home, it would also add to the cost, raising the price tag of us settling lunar side. In order to help keep costs down (and the vision from being potentially killed) it may be better for humanity to choose lunar rocks and dirt instead.
(Universe Today) As it turns out, lunar regolith has many useful properties for construction on the Moon. To complement lunar concrete (as introduced earlier in Part 2), basic building structures may be formed from cast regolith. Cast regolith would be very similar to terrestrial cast basalt. Created by melting regolith in a mold and allowing it to cool slowly would allow a crystalline structure to form, resulting in highly compressive and moderately tensile building components. The high vacuum on the Moon would greatly improve the manufacturing process of the material. We also have experience here on Earth in how to create cast basalt, so this isn’t a new and untested method. Basic habitat shapes could be manufactured with little preparation of the raw materials. Elements like beams, columns, slabs, shells, arch segments, blocks and cylinders could be fabricated, each element having ten times the compressive and tensile strength of concrete.
Using lunar rock as a main building block for lunar bases may not only reduce the overall cost of us setting foot abroad, but also help protect ourselves from cosmic radiation (as it would be much easier and cheaper than powering artificial magnetic fields).
While these thick lunar walls may be able to resist being penetrated by tiny incoming space rocks from above, it may be wise for NASA to consider “insulating” the walls with inflatable material as an extra precaution.